Drow Wars: Episode 10 De Profundis
Cast of Characters
- Alfric, Human Rogue, Male
- Ter'Ri, Human Monk, Male
- Lorenna, Human Druid, Female
- Gelnix the Magnificent, Human Wizard, Male
- Brottor , Dwarf Cleric, Male
- Ossius, Elf Ranger, Male
- Reyus, Dwarf Fighter, Male
- Azrael, Aasimar Paladin, Male
From the journal of Brottor
Following the death of the Terror the armies of darkness retreat back out of site. We have some time to recover as Caldraza has made peace with its neighbors. Those of us who saved the Queen are awarded the land to go with their titles. We do some shopping and investigate our new lands.
While recuperate we find that Chillhame, our original island, has been abandoned by the army and there is celebration in the streets. Our names are apparently being touted in ever wilder stories of bravery and va lour. Eyewitnesses report that the drow and duerger fleeing in terror, despite the minimal human resistance.
Ships report seeing more floating debris, and soon more remains of ships show up as if they have been smashed my foul weather or pirates. There has been no evidence of an increase in the pirates so it seems that something else is targeting shipping.
Dwarves of Svarth have reported smoke in the sky as if something else was working metal in the area. Only a small clan of grey dwarves are known to be in the area, so either they are hammering day and night on some huge project or something larger stirs beneath the mountain.
When we all meet up again to discuss our lands a fully armoured knight rides up and dismounts from his warhorse coming towards us. He arrives before us and makes writing motions. Azrael indicates that he is making clockwork sounds as he writes us a message. He hands the message to Gelnix, bows and returns to his mount and rides off.
The parchment reads:
To the Starborn
We apologize for this unusual method of communication, circumstances have demanded it,., our messenger has its faults but he can be guaranteed to deliver his message. A mortal messenger would have been taken so we have used this clockwork knight, the finest work of the Gnomes of Valla, he has no mind so this message cannot be extracted from him by torture or magic.
The danger posed by the minions of dark is far from over. We now face, no mere house of bitter exiles but the true conclave of the Drow, the Ennead. Even now they are preparing to strike at the kingdom of Jehannum, the most fortified country of eastern Ashfar. We understand that it seems bizarre that such a nation could be at risk but that is what is so. Furthermore their eyes are turned on Crom Calamar itself, the seat of the Iron Dukes. How they intend to attack is unknown to us but we know that they will come up from underneath. There are many tunnels under the city some have been shunned for years, especially in the tomb districts where the Halls of Groaning lie.
In defeating Metzaline, the Terror you became heroes, and can no longer be just dismissed as adventurers. We hope the Iron Dukes hold you in as high regard as Cladrazans
When you have spoken to the Iron Dukes come to the inn of the Green Embers in the west of Crom Calamar. Either the clockwork knight or I myself will meet you there. It is my hope that upon that meeting I will be able to tell you more of myself and my allies. There is much yet to tell the earth barely covers the past and old ghosts will return to haunt us before this is over.
Know one thing more. your victory will bring you another kind of fame, you are no longer hidden from the eyes of your enemies, they know now what they face and they seek to slay you at every turn.
In service to the Stars
Militaristic human nation convinced of their own superiority. They have been trading with the dwarves Svarth for generations - human meat and ale in exchange for dwarven steel. This has made them the most heavily armed nation in the known world, ruled over by the Iron Dukes from the city of Crom Calamar - a fortress city of iron and stone.
They operate a martial citizenship system: If one is registered as a warrior then one is entitled to vote on any matter that the dukes put to it, including who succeeds a duke when he resigns or dies. Only those who fight for the country get a say in how it shall be run. The residences have a knee-jerk reaction to those who are not warriors - clerics are ok as long as they get in the battle. Wizards and sorcerers are an unfortunate necessity - needed for the best magic weapons. Rangers are scruffy but tolerable, barbarians are great drinking buddies, paladins are seen as a fine upstanding example and druids are held with contempt as tree hugging hippies. Rogues are not people you would associate with, monks are respected as warriors but too into the mystic hocus pocus.
Almost all of the citizens are armed all the time, weapons are seen as a sign of citizenry - being seen without one is like being seen naked. Obvious wizards, sorcerers and druids have difficulty in social situations. Failing to accept a challenge is cowardly.
We have 2 ways of traveling to Jehannum: through Gale or by sea. We decide that by sea will be both much faster and easier. After discussing things with Queen Rommily she gets us passage on a trusted vessel and provides us with papers identifying us as nobles and ambassadors of Caldraza
We set off on a Caldrazan frigate. Azrael does a detect evil on the crew before we set off: it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. It is going to take a couple of weeks to sail there.
Halfway down we get called up on deck to witness a large mass of debris, the recent remains of a ship and a large one. Ter'ri spots the name of ship: the Unvanquishable, in the wreckage which our captain recognizes as a Jehannum military vessel that patrols the waters, something has smashed it into tiny pieces like an egg, there are no bodies, let alone survivors and the ship shows no obvious battle damage, it is as if a giant fisted as just smashed it to matchwood.
As we near Crom Calimar we see a massive stone archway - the magic gate that links this continent with the others. There is the stench of dead fish on the air. The Harbor is fortified beyond belief. A fort on either side stands ready with all manner of siege weapons to unleash death against any enemy vessel, a fort in the centre of the river is similarly armed.
The city itself is a warlords dream: walls and fortifications are abound. The only touches of humanity are form the citizenry in the lower city painting and sticking up flags on their homes and the non-military structures as well as painting murals on the walls. The upper city is separated from the lower by a large stone wall, access is restricted to military and nobility only.
Begonstock castle overshadows the whole city from its position on the hill. A grotesque fortress of stone with layers of iron armour on the rock. I find myself looking around in joy - these people may not be much on architecture but they build things to last!
Gelnix uses the Orb to search for a stone circle - it is somewhere in or under the castle.
We head towards the castle and upper city to make an appointment to see the council of Dukes. We present our papers to the guards at the foot of the steps leading up the hill to the castle. They get their supervisor, Captain Chalham, who leaves for half an hour then returns - the council will see us in the morning.
We book ourselves into an inn and do a little research on the dukes and other rulers for our meeting tomorrow.
Alfric learns from the bar:
- There are 9 Iron dukes who meet in the castle to discuss matters.
- By tradition they wear iron masks to conceal their faces when meeting strangers or in council.
- There are many fine craftsman by the finest of all is Bommer Haggin, a dwarf. He effectively runs the lower city as he owns much of it, he counts himself an ally of the iron dukes.
- The Iron masks that the dukes wear have magical powers.
- The Drow used to hold land in the country but they were massacred by the hundreds, they were descended from the noncombatants left fatherless by the last war.
- There used to be a bounty on Drow scalps.
- The upper city is much older than lower part.
- The tomb district has many underground caverns called the halls of groaning where people are not permitted to enter.
- It is bad manners to refuse a duel.
- A touring show recently came through town, the amazing Brexal and his shadow puppets, apparently it was amazing and provided lots of entertainment.
- There is a mighty tomb in the halls of groaning that holds the bodies of a hundred knights. They discovered a prophecy that the city would fall unless the blood of its mighty warriors was bound to the stone. They fell upon their blades and mixed their blood with the mortar within the castle. Legend says that if the city is in direst need a mighty hero will be able to wake them to defend it.
- Some of the brightly painted murals in the lower city are magical - they are gateways to other places.
Duke Morganstern, is the sovereign of Bergenstock, honoury chairman of the dukes council whose remit is the city.
We set watches when we sleep, amazing we are not attacked! We head down for breakfast, everyone around us is armoured and carrying weapons.
We head to see the Dukes early in morning. 4 of the Dukes are in sitting and see us. The castle is entirely gothic architecture, suits of armour, swords and banners, wind blows through the corridors. I'm enjoying this, as is Azrael - the inhabitants probably bath in cold water to prove how hard they are.
We explain the situation to them, but they politely laugh at our concerns. Even if the drow did come up from under the city they would not have the might to batter through the walls. Apparently every inch of the tunnels has been mapped by cartographers but nobody has been down there recently.
I try to explain that they would attack the strongest enemy first whilst we are divided rather than risking an alliance. But they are still unconvinced. We convince them that as a gesture of goodwill to Caldraza they will allow us to investigate the lower tunnels, but specifically we are not allowed into the halls of groaning as it is disrespectful to the dead. We are assigned some men to assist us, and escort us so we can't go wandering off.
We head off to the Green Embers inn for lunchtime arranging to meet our escort of soldiers in the afternoon to start our investigations. We have been assigned captain Chalham and 1 heavy infantryman per party member. The inn is pretty normal and busy with the lunchtime trade, we look for a mage or a clockwork armour, but see none.
In the afternoon we go down to the sewers. The main sewer entrance has its own fortification, we are taken on a patrol down the main sewer tunnels - 10 foot wide passages that basically go in a regular grid under the city. From what we can see an attack on the sewers would be foolhardily - the army would be bottlenecked in many places and cut down. They would almost certainly come from somewhere else.
Ter'ri and Alfric think they hear a faint rumbling in an area, coming from lower underground. The guards are not convinced, they think it is carts overhead. We note the location on the map and continue trying to see if the sound goes with us. Further down we find a solidly locked door, the guards inform us that this leads to the groaning halls.
We have dinner in the Green Ember inn, but again no clockwork knight and no mystery contact. Alfric does another bit of information gathering:
- The real reason the humans turned on the drow was because the elves offered them huge piles of gold. Nobody likes to talk about it, preferring to believe that the drow were just bastards and had it coming.
- Bomber Haggin has a few torture devices for sale if you are looking for them.
- A watchman swears he saw a floating city heading southwards one night.
- Several of the citizens have heard an odd thrumming noise coming from beneath the streets - like the one we heard: Alfric and Ter'ri weren't going mad after all.
- Some of the sailors on the docks are claiming to have seen an island that vanished back under water when they drew close.
- The Iron Dukes masks hold the souls of the same 9 people who have ruled the city since its founding. When the new host puts on the mask the soul destroys his and takes over.
Claybern Haggern is Bombers proper name, he is heir to the largest set of forges in the dwarven kingdom he crafters beautiful armour. He is unusally thin for a dwarf and wears an eyepatch. His face is covered in scars and owning one of his weapons is something that can gather a great deal of respect in the right circles. Azrael has quiet conversation about torture tools and acquires some small ones.
We resolve to use dimension door and teleport to get to the door in the sewers that leads to the catacombs.
From the journal of Reyus Grimlock
In the city, Lorenna wishes to purchase barding for Onyx. As Lorenna can also now transform into a Dire Eagle, we decide to purchase a Dire Eagle mount so someone can ride Lorenna into battle. Hmm. Back to the sewers...
With our new Helm of Teleportation, we determine it is now possible to magically teleport the entire party, complete with animal companions and cohorts directly into the catacombs. However this would mean we'd be unable to escape the same way. But apparently stealth has never been this partys method, so off we go I guess.
We teleport into a very old narrow passageway, with a dry steam running a few hundred feet along it, stopping at another locked metal gate. A very old, rusted, locked metal gate. Alfric searches for traps, but can't find anything due to the rust. Alfric tries to pick it, but it seems to be rusted into positition. My fellow dwarf Brottor comes to our aid with his magic, and uses Iron Silence so we can knock down the gate quietly. I step forward and pull the gate off its hinges, and we continue on.
A short distance on, the passageway opens up into a chamber. In the centre of the small chamber is a stone block about 6' by 4', and 4' tall. In one corner of the chamber, there lie four rusting iron pales, and a number of rusting implements such as knives. The dry gutter runs up the the stone block. Brottor cannot detect any magic on the block. Alfric begins to get the creeps so we all activate our signature weapons. Ter'ri inspects the rust buckets, but can find anything. We all search the area, but find nothing but buckets. We listen for any potential invaders, but hear nothing. The party marches forwards.
The passage way on the opposite end of the chamber ends in a pair of double doors, which Alfric searches for traps. Not finding any, he opens it. The door gives out a horrible screaching sound. Beyond the door lies a large chamber, with another stone block in front off us. There are a number of rows of old wooden seating beyond this, and there are old tapestries hanging from the wall. There is a musty smell to this chamber. There are a number of doors leaving off this chamber. The more martial members of the party enter the room first to check it is safe. We search the room. Azrael opens a door to our left (with another loud groan) to a passageway strewn from stone. We can't see anything interesting. We check the next and find nothing. The last door on the right, another passage. We enter this passage.
As we go down the passageway, it begins to get colder. 100ft along we reach a bend to our right. This section is slightly different; along the walls are a number of crypts sealed with stones, marked with family names. Not wishing to disturb the dead, we continue along. The further we get, the older the crypts get. We keep walking until we reach a section where some of the tombs have been broken open. Brottor determines the breaks have been recent, while Ossius finds clawed footprints. We carry on down the passageway until we hear a scuffling in a side passage...
We see a group of gribblys, more or less humanoid, with a ghoulish appearance, rotting skin and glowing eyes. They enter the corridor in front of us from both side passages. They attempt to attack myself and Azrael but fail to get past our armour. Lorenna conjours a scalding mist on the monsters, burning them. Jesshalt asks Vendyss to destroy them, destroying three of them outright. I step forward and attack one, dropping it. But along the passages I see an almost endless torrent of ghouls. Azrael steps up besides me and tries to turn the ones in the opposite corridor but fails. There is a long drawn out fight, but we eventually beat the ghasts, and continue on. Azrael detects an general aura of evil in this crypt. Fantastic, couldn't he have told us this earlier?
We hear another monstrous horde approach, so Lorrenna responds, as always, by protecting her bear. Monsters similar to the ghasts we just fought appear ahead of us, but they appear tougher, and some are amoured. Straight away, Azrael is clawed and drops to the ground, paralysed.. They attempt to claw me and do minor damage, but fail to paralyse me. Brottor steps over Azrael and attacks the nearest monster, while Jesshalt steps it from a distance. Ossius draws his bow and fires at the one that got Azrael, hitting both times. I hit the one ahead of me, but disapointingly fail to drop it. Gelnix whips out the fiery retribution, burning three of them, but they still stand. Lorenna again conjures a ball of fire and attacks them. I get clawed again, while Brottor is bitten. Brottor attempts to stop one dragging Azrael away, but fails, so instead he attempts to push one forwards to allow more of the party to get into the combat. He pushes it back 5'. Jesshalt steps up and turns one of them. Alfric throws a bottle of holy water at the one in front of me, which amazingly still survives. Ossius fires his bow again, and I attack with my axe. Shit, we're in trouble.
Gelnix fires a magic missile and it finally drops. One down, nine to go. More spells are fired, and Ter'Ri moves forward and punches at the one engaging Brottor. A new one attacks me but fails to do much damage. Brottor also dodges an attack. Azrael is rapidly disapearing from sight. Brottor, feeling feverish from his last attack, hammers another gribbly. Jessalt pikes the same one but misses. Ossius moves next me and attacks one, while I hit him with my axe.
Down the passageway, the uber-ghasts try and claw Azrael, but he lays his hands on them, damaging them with positive energy. He is bit and clawed by the ghasts, and falls down paralysed again. Lorenna uses more magic and drops the monster in front of me. More step forward and hit me and Ossius, missing me, slightly harming the elf. Ter'ri punches and drops the one in front of Brottor, allowing the cleric to charge towards Azrael. The elf and I hit the same one, but I unfortunately miss. Gelnix moves forwards towards Azrael, with his sword. The undead attack the rescue party, doing minor damage, and attempt to feast on Azrael, but fail to do much damage. Ter'Ri, Brottor, and Jessalt all attack simultaneously the ones that dragged away Azrael, while Lorenna's bear moves up next to Ossius and me. Ossius drops one, I attack the last one from our side of the passage. Gelnix decides its a good idea to attack with Azraels sword, but fails. Why is the bloody wizard trying to use a sword? Stupid human. The druid moves behind me and produces more flame at the last in my corridor. Ossius is both clawed and bitten at. Alfric takes some claw damage. Azrael takes further damage, and takes a critical wound from them! Azrael dies on the floor surrounded by undead, who feast on him!
Brottor drops another, leaving four. Alfric, another. Three. Ossius takes the one on our side, two left, the ones surrounding Azrael. They move forward to attack Ter'Ri, clawing at him, who is hit by the same fever that struck Brottor. Ter'ri drops the penultimate gribly. Brottor and Alfric flank the remaining one and both attack, finishing the battle.
Lorenna heals our wounded, but is unable to remove the magical diseases that Ter'ri and Brottor were inflicted with, and we can't raise Azrael until the next morning, so we decide to keep moving, with Onyx carrying Azrael's corpse. The rest of the section is more of the same, but we find nothing. We return to the main chamber. The door opposite the passage we just explored looks like more of the same. Opening the last door, we enter a passage leading upwards to some stairs. Going up, we enter a stone chamber with one metal door. Figuring that this could be a main entrance, and noting that the drow are possibly tunneling from underneath, we decide not to go through it and go back down to the chamber. We head down the other crypt passage, finding older tombs. As we approach the far end of the tomb, it gets even colder. Jessalt detects undead ahead. The mages cast spells and we make plans.
From the journal of Alfric
Up ahead we see a large number of spectral forms. They attack. The fight ensues. Jessalt turns one spectre. The lunatic Gelnix casts a fireball in the middle of the party. It also hits some of the spectres. Two are killed outright. Searing light from Brottor kills one threatening Lorenna. Reyuss holy dwarven waraxe cleaves a spectre in two. The spectres drain the lifeforce of several party members. Jessalt uses searing light to destroy another spectre. Alfric cleaves another with flaming longsword and crackling icey blade. Gelnix bounces an explosive cascade down the corridor. The final spectre is destroyed. We camp near the sewer on the other side of the iron gate.
Azrael is raised from the dead. Reyus and Ter'ri have their lifeforce restored. We teleport out and return to the inn. At the Inn of the Green Embers there is no sign of the clockwork knight or other messenger. We go shopping. The next day we head back to the tomb. We explore the passageways for more undead or signs of drow. At the locked door we dimension door past and find ourselves in the mausoleum outside the castle. We dimension door back. Searching again in oldest section Alfric finds a secret passage that leads to a stone door. It has an archaic script written on it. Gelnix translates it.
Stranger I caution, do not proceed
Until the nations darkest need
For only once will those within
Heed the call of their Captains kin
The following day we teleport back to the inn. We head off into city in search of information. We hear a distant rumble from beneath our feat. It sounds as if something huge is moving through the cities sewers. The ground is shaking visibly. Cobbles are cracking and windows shatter. The rumble becomes a roar and it becomes an avalanche. A huge spire comes up from the ground. As it stops higher than the other buildings. From the top of the spire comes darkness that fills the streets. Screams of terror ring out through the city. Lanterns are lit but they cast a feeble light. Crowds gather around the spire. Rank upon rank of drow emerge from the spire along with cowled wizards. The words come out saying the armies of the Eniad have returned. The five major cities are covered in darkness. Submit or die. The citizens fight. From the spire comes a shockwave. Houses are destroyed by something akin to an earthquake. Reyus is knocked to the crown. The bear falls into a fissure. It closes squishing the bear. As the dust settles the fissures have shut. The spire is shivering. A titanic shape somes into view clinging to the spire. Its pitch black. It is a collosul great worm. The drow pore foreward. Some citizens fight but they are overwhelmed. We teleport down to the sewers. We fail to get past the stone door. We dimension door a few of out into the mausoleum. Alfric picks the lock. It breaks the seal on the door. The rest of us move through the doors.
Meanwhile the Drow are killing citizens and capturing women and children. As they are returned to spire the names of captured citizens who are being slain are announced. More will be killed until the city surrenders. There is some organised resistance in the town square lead by an iron duke. It halts the drow. Then the dark shape of a dragon is seen. Soon after all resistence in the square is ended. Outside the castle gates there is a mass of citizenry. The gates of the city remain shut. We try to persuade them to let us in. The guards are bluffed into letting us in. They open the gates and the citizens rush through. We head into the castle. Gelnix a fireball to clear the citizens who are rushing through. We try to find the iron dukes. One doesn't know about the undead knights. Eventually Alfric finds the name of the captain we need, Brommel. We research the Captains geneology in the library. We ask the orb of azrael the question. "Should we flee the city at this juncture?" It answers yes.
The city surrenders and the drow surround the city. Some people try to flee the city in boats. The next day we teleport to the Inn of the Green Embers. We find the mechanical knight who writes a message. We are to meet our contact at a location on the coast. We persuade a librarian to spend some of his time researching the name of the decendant of Captain Brommol. We use teleport to get out to the city. There is a small rowing boat at a location on the beach. Our contact reveals himself to be purebread elf. Nimean Archimandrus one of the mages of SothSerandi. He apologises and says there is little that the Iron Dukes could have done. The nine houses of the drow have taken the five major cities of Jehannon. He invites us back to Soth- Sarandi. They know about the black dragon, Scallandrix. We head for the sea portal. There are some gigantic tentacles by the sea portal. The ships captain looks worried. He suggests heading to Soth Serandi by sea.
From the journal of Ter'Ri
To distract the kraken, Gelnix and Lorenna decide to try and fly around it casting spells like flamestrike and fireball. The tentacles disappear under the water and the wind picks up, blowing the boat to the portal. The kraken lurks under the water. Does it have spells - like produce wind? As the wind picks up Gelnix falls from the back of Lorenna and manages to dimension door to the boat. Brottor decides to try and dispel the wind, but fails. Gelnix tries and the winds die down. Lorenna and Gelnix fly up again and cast spells down at any dark shapes in the water. The dark shape is heading straight for the boat. Lorenna heads for the boat. The boat turns and heads away from the kraken!
We give up with this protal and decide to head to Serandi direct, which will require an epic sea voyage, stopping off helf way at Verd an island of halflings. After a couple of days, we see another 2 vessels that the captain says are pirates - the Sea Harriers. Their ships then disappear off the horizon and we decide to ignore them continuing for Verd.
After a number of days we see land. A number of humanoid creatures are swimming towards us one seems to be unconcious and is being supported by the others. They are tritons, the human was shipwrecked in the sea. The tritons are the enemy of the creatures that destroyed the ship. The enemies are Sahuagin and they have a device that can sink ships. We decide to help. Aldrad was the rescued sailor. A maelstrom appeared in front of the boat which sank the boat.
Our plan is to take the main boat to a safe distance then take a rowing boat to where the creatures are and await what happens. Lorenna ships ahead as a shark. Suddenly a whirlpool appears. We are sucked down to the bottom of the sea. Lorenna rounds us up and leads us to the lair. There are 4 Sahuagin each with sharks. Their sharks attack the sharks that Lorenna has summoned. Suddenly the party is surrounded by some of the creatures and we enter into combat. The creatures eventually are killed and we regroup. We head off after a shark that had disappeared off, perhaps to get reinforcements.
We find a tunnel. There is a funny smell. The tunnel opens into a large chamber there are human remains throughout the cavern. There are four creatures in the cavern like we have just fought and two other larger creatures, one is huge. However, in the murkey water only some of us can see into the cavern to see the monsters. Lorenna can and sends a scintillating sphere. Ter'Ri gets a battering and Gelnex sends in a scorching ray. Ter'Ri takes a fatal blow..
Ossius is grappled by the big monster and swallowed. Eventually the big monster is killed. Ossius dies in the stomach of the big monster. The others flee.